“I’m so impressed with the way you date.” said a dear friend.
“Thanks?!” I replied, chuckling and somewhat puzzled. “How so?”
“Through dating you seem to have gained so much confidence, and learned so much about yourself.”
I can see what she was getting at. I’ve certainly grabbed the opportunities for self-reflection and I think dating does really offer up a mirror. I think I’ve been able to use that mirror to help me change and grow. Here’s a few examples of things I’ve noticed:
I’m not usually nervous before a date. I feel confident to just be me, and accepting of what that may bring. I see each date as an opportunity for connection, with an open mind about what form that might take. There’s no judgement of myself or the other person if it doesn’t work out. Judgement, no. Sadness… sometimes: although that seems like a perfectly healthy human response to unrequited longing. I experienced that this summer when I began to seriously fall for someone who didn’t feel the same way. Ouch.
I have noticed a pattern of dating men with autistic tendencies. My parents are both on the spectrum, so it’s not a big surprise really. However, it can feel frustrating for me because it doesn’t always allow the depth of connection that I’m craving. For example, Robert promptly ended what was (I thought) an fascinating conversation about pleasure and addiction. He explained that it wasn’t our job to wonder about such things- we should leave it for scientists to find the answer.
Dates are a great practice ground for trying out new ways of being. I’ve found that I don’t have to sit quietly and tolerate: I am able to communicate bring both honesty and compassion to bear fruit. In fact, I enjoy the freshness and authenticity that kind-hearted honesty brings.
I like to be up-front and open about my practising both kink and non-monogamy. In order to communicate that, I have to know what I want. So I’ve become really clear about that too. In fact, I think that’s a whole other blog post!
I try to remember to bring self-awareness to each meeting. I recently had a date who talked about death from the get-go. Whenever I changed the topic, he would enthusiastically bring it back once again to dark and brooding territory. There was a tenderness lacking in his almost gleeful interest in death. I began to feel heavy inside.
Old-me would have politely sat out the conversation, waited for him to ‘end’ the date, and then gone home nursing that heaviness and unease. New-me went to the loo in order to take a moment to check in with myself. I realised I wasn’t feeling good, and that a first date shouldn’t really lead to downbeat, introspective toilet breaks! I returned to the table and wrapped up the conversation. That’s self-kindness isn’t it? Once home, I messaged him to say that it was good to meet, although I didn’t feel a strong connection, and questioned how it had felt for him. It turned out the feeling was mutual.
I have a couple of dates coming up in the next few days: first there’s Joe, the delightfully kinky hipster plumber; followed closely by Robert the somewhat arrogant but very sexy and dominant executive. Let’s see what new insights they might bring!